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Paul Westerberg Honors Big Star’s Alex Chilton


“How does one react to the death of one’s mentor?”

This is the emotional opening line of ex-Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg’s op-ed tribute in Saturday’s New York Times to Alex Chilton, the Big Star and Box Tops legend who died Thursday morning in New Orleans from an apparent heart attack. He was 59.

Read the complete article here.

In his lengthy piece, Westerberg — who also wrote the Replacements’ 1987 love letter “Alex Chilton” — airs his reaction to the rocker’s passing.”Rock guitar players are all dead men walking,” he writes. “It’s only a matter of time, I tell myself as I finger my callouses… Those who fail to click with the world and society at large find safe haven in music — to sing, write songs, create, perform. Each an active art in itself that offers no promise of success, let alone happiness.”

The article’s highlight is a personal anecdote of a chance meeting with Chilton in New York City. “He invited me along to watch the World Series on TV,” Westerberg wrote,”and I immediately discarded whatever flimsy obligation I may have had. We watched baseball, talked and laughed…”

Westerberg is just one of many artists who paid tribute to the Big Star this past week.Check out SPIN’s coverage of the Chilton tribute at SXSW Saturday night here. The show featured members of Big Star, plus guests like X’s John Doe, Sondre Lerche, and Evan Dando.

LISTEN: The Replacements, “Alex Chilton”